When you enter a dirty bathroom, it’s the reluctance you have to touch the stall doors, or the sink knobs, or even use one of the toilets.

It’s the uncertain look you pass to your friends as you try to decide whether or not you need to use the bathroom that badly.

When you reconsider your plans, it’s the reminder that you won’t be at a bathroom again for another two hours while you drive back home.

It’s the way you cluster together, arms crossed, purses clenched to your side, as you rock on the balls of your feet and wait for someone to make a decision.

When your friend decides to brave it, it’s the hard click of her shoes across the grimy tiled floor. It’s the realization that her steps have to be loud, that they have to echo off these greenish walls, because otherwise, she won’t be brave enough to take care of what needs to be done.

It’s the slow peel of each friend from the cluster as you follow her lead, inching towards the other stalls, and poking the doors into place with the tips of your fingernails, all covered in toilet paper, so that you don’t catch whatever germs have been festering since the last time the place was cleaned — probably a year ago, at least. It’s the dance you do, laying toilet paper over the seat and trying not to sit even on that, while you try your best to hurry your bowels along.

When you’re done, it’s the mad scramble to leave the stall, regroup, and then shuffle out together, your hands reaching into purses for Wet Ones, and keys, and conversation about just how gross that was, and can you please never do that again? Can you just find another bathroom next time?

It’s not the relief that goes around your group on a single breath as you make your way back to the car, grateful to finally go home.

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